Roundup Exposure May Increase Children’s Risk of Liver Disease and Diabetes: Study

The study calls for more research into the metabolic risks of Roundup exposure, and not just focusing on the weed killer's cancer risks.

A new study warns that exposure to glyphosate in Roundup can cause liver inflammation and metabolic disorders among children, potentially impacting their health as they reach adulthood.

Researchers from the University of California Berkeley’s School of Public Health indicate there is a link between the side effects of Roundup’s active ingredient and liver cancer, liver disease, heart disease, diabetes and other long-term health complications. The findings were published on March 1 in the medical journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

Roundup has been widely marketed for decades in the United States, not only within the agricultural community, but also for residential use at homes. However, concerns about the safety of the weedkiller emerged in 2015, when the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) decided to classify glyphosate in Roundup as a probable cancer-causing agent, and a study stream of research has been released that suggests Roundup exposure increases the risk of non-Hodgkins lymphoma and other cancers.

As a result of Monsanto’s failure to provide adequate warnings on their glyphosate products, tens of thousands of Roundup lawsuits have been filed by individuals diagnosed with cancer in recent years, and internal documents have been uncovered that highlight how the manufacturer worked to cover up negative findings related to the blockbuster weed killer, and manipulated study results for decades. However, research a steady stream of research has also highlighted other potential long-term health risks.

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In this latest study, researchers looked at 480 mother-child duos in the Salinas Valley, California, which is a heavily agricultural region. They looked at Roundup use near the duo’s homes while the mother was pregnant and until the child was up to five years old, measuring the presence of glyphosate and other chemicals in their urine. The researchers also looked at liver and metabolic health in those children when they turned 18 years old.

According to the findings, children with higher levels of glyphosate and aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA), a chemical created by the degradation of glyphosate, in their bodies were linked to a higher risk of liver inflammation and metabolic disorders when the children entered adulthood. The researchers also determined that the use of glyphosate near the subjects’ homes from birth through age 5 was also associated with higher metabolic disorder risks, which can include liver disease, liver cancer, diabetes and other health problems, warning that the children’s diets were a major vector for these chemicals.

“Overall, a 2-fold increase in urinary AMPA during childhood was associated with a 14% and a 55% increased risk of elevated liver transaminases and metabolic syndrome, respectively,” the researchers determined. “Living near agricultural glyphosate applications during early childhood (birth to 5 y of age) was also associated with metabolic syndrome at age 18 y in the case–control group.”

Metabolic syndrome is a group of conditions which include hypertension, high cholesterol, and an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, heart disease and diabetes. These conditions can increase the risk of liver problems, including liver disease and liver cancer.

The researchers noted that while much of the research on glyphosate has focused on its cancer risk, more investigation into the weed killer’s metabolic risks is needed.

Roundup Cancer Lawsuits Over Glyphosate Risks

After several years of litigation involving the Roundup cancer risk, including several massive jury verdicts returned in early bellwether trials, Bayer and its Monsanto subsidiary have agreed to pay billions in Roundup settlements for former users diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. However, the companies are expected to continue to face claims over the glyphosate-based weed killer for years to come, as new cancer cases continue to be diagnosed.

In response to the growing concerns over liability exposure, the manufacturer announced plans last year to remove glyphosate from Roundup versions of the weed killers sold to U.S. residential customers by 2023. The products would still be sold under the Roundup label, but use a different active ingredient, which has not been linked to a risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and other side effects. However, glyphosate would still be used in products sold to agricultural businesses and farmers, and in products sold in other parts of the world.


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